Concerns about Sondermann tree-cutting; city responds

       City Forester Paul Smith said this week that a recent tree-cutting project in Sondermann Park was limited to Siberian elms that were dead or dying from bark beetle infestations.

Piles of sawed-down elm trees lie alongside a trail in the southern part of Sondermann Park this week.
Westside Pioneer photo

       He estimated that 20 to 30 full-sized elms were cut down, along with an uncounted number of saplings. “There's been a bit of an outbreak on the whole Westside,” he said. “These were in a pocket of Sonder-mann.”
       He added that as a general principle, the city does not seek to eliminate Siberian elms, but does want to control them because “they are so invasive and start choking out the cottonwoods, poplars and chokecherries.”
       The recent cutting was done by the Mile High Youth Corps, a Denver-based organization specializing in outdoor conservation programs throughout the state.
       The Westside Pioneer contacted Smith after being copied on a complaint from a resident that “neighbors are furious at the attack on Sondermann Park. This week hundreds of elm trees have been killed. Yet our trails are in terrible shape due to the floods. Typical misuse of taxpayer dollars.”
       The Pioneer also spoke with Steve Schwartz, who has been the lead volunteer for Sondermann for several years. Schwartz said that in speaking with the Youth Corps crew, “I was told that their mission is to cut down all the Chinese [Siberian] elms that are damaged by the elm beetle. They appear to be cutting down ALL the elms, although the tree-cutting phase of the project appears to have ended last Friday.”
       The chainsawed trees were lying where they'd fallen in a southern part of the park early this week. Smith said the city planned to bring in a chipper “Thursday or Friday” (Oct. 31 or Nov. 1) to complete the work.
       Schwartz said he understands about the elm growth needing to be controlled. “On the other hand,” he said. “A lot of the really nice shade trees along the main trail in the park are Chinese elms and form much of the character of the park. They also are one of the reasons the park is such a birders delight.”

Westside Pioneer article